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Going the Italian way to eat fish may prevent cancer says a new study

Posted:  Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weight conscious individuals may look up to popular diets to lose some extra kilos around their waist. However, what remains to be known are the long-term effects of such weight loss diets. A recent study found that people who had lost modest weight after the first year on popular diets partially regained the weight after two years. Moreover, the long-term weight loss and heart health benefits of these diets are yet to be determined.

The study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, compared clinical trials on popular commercial diets such as Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Zone. These diets are touted to promote weight loss and cardiovascular health. Although there are only a limited number of trials and conflicting findings on these diets, the researchers found modest evidence for their long-term benefits.

• •  Weight Watchers, a popular commercial diet in the US, led to an average 7.7 to 13.2 pounds of weight loss after a year compared to 1.8 to 11.9 pounds with traditional interventions; however the weight lost was partially regained at 2 years. Traditional interventions included low-fat diets, behavioural modification, nutritional counselling, or self-help materials.

•  Finding from the trials on the Atkins diet were conflicting.

•   Trials comparing the South Beach diet with traditional interventions showed no difference in weight loss at 12 months; however the study participants were both severely obese and had undergone gastric bypass surgery.

•   Head-to-head comparisons between Atkins, Weight Watchers, Zone and traditional interventions demonstrated that all the four diets led to modest weight loss at one year. Individuals on the Atkins diet reported an average 4.6 to 10.3 pounds of weight loss, while followers of the Weight Watchers diet lost an average 6.6 pounds. Dieters following the Zone diet and traditional interventions reported an average weight loss of 3.5 to 7 pounds and 4.85 pounds, respectively.

•   Trials of head-to-head comparisons found no marked variation between the Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets in improving cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, or other cardiovascular risk factors.

Commenting on the benefits of popular diets, Mark Eisenberg, the lead author of the study said, “A broader lifestyle intervention, which also involves doctors and other health professionals, may be more effective. This also tells doctors that popular diets on their own may not be the solution to help their patients lose weight.”

Overweight or obesity and its association with degenerative diseases are of great public health importance. Hence, the need for large-scale clinical trials comparing popular diets and validating their long-term weight loss and heart health benefits cannot be overemphasised.

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